Chronic inflammation is the No. 1 cause of disease and aging. In fact, research links it to virtually every major disease of our time, including Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and Type II diabetes.
Fortunately, research also shows that making simple dietary changes can reduce chronic inflammation—and therefore reduce your disease risk.
So, let’s discuss how to get started on a new, healthy, balanced eating plan to keep harmful inflammation and aging at bay…
1.) Toss the toxic temptations
The first step, which you can start immediately, is to get rid of all the processed products in your kitchen that increase inflammation.
Five of the worst inflammation-causing culprits are:
- Products made with artificial sweeteners—such as aspartame and sucralose
- Products made white flour—such as white bread
- Products made with table sugar (sucrose)—such as candy, cereal, cookies, ice cream, and soda
- Fried foods—such as potato chips and French fries
- Products that contain omega-6 fatty acids—such as packaged baked goods
Note: The typical American diet contains far too many omega-6s, which are found in foods made with vegetable oils and shortening, and far too few omega-3s, which are found in seafood and fish.
In fact, the average ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in Western societies is about 16:1. But research shows that the ratio should be more like 4:1 or lower for optimal health.
Which brings me to your next step…
2.) Balance omega-6s and omega-3s
To balance your ratio of fatty acids, first, cut out omega-6 foods, such as packaged baked goods and vegetable oil, as I mentioned in step 1.
Next, boost your intake of foods rich in omega-3s—such as wild-caught fish and seafood. Most Americans also need to take a high-quality fish oil supplement daily, as I explained in the June 2018 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter (“Why I’m upping my recommendations for this ‘controversial’ supplement”).
Avocadoes also contain inflammation-reducing omega-3s. And a recent meta-analysis of 129 previously published studies found that men and women who eat avocadoes have less abdominal fat and a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which research links to chronic inflammation.
So, I suggest adding fresh avocado on top of eggs, in salads, and on sandwiches. You could also whip up a fresh batch of guacamole once a week.
Of course, good guacamole salsa may also contain chopped onion and fresh lime, which are rich sources of vitamin C, B vitamins, and polyphenols. Plus, the chopped tomatoes contain the potent carotenoid lycopene.
I also typically toss in a diced hot pepper, which adds more vitamin C as well as the inflammation-fighting capsaicin. And I finish it off with some fresh, roughly chopped cilantro to balance out the heat and flavor, which is also packed with anti-inflammatory compounds.
What’s your go-to guacamole recipe? Drop me a Facebook comment on my Insiders’ Cures Facebook page or shoot me an email at email@example.com. Also, keep any eye out for the upcoming May issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter for all the benefits of avocadoes.
3.) Eat more protein and healthy fats
As always, I recommend you eat plenty of fish, seafood, meat, nuts, and full-fat dairy products—such as eggs, cheese, and yogurt.
For one, these foods contain plenty of vitamin D3, which suppresses chronic inflammation and wards off disease. In fact, according to a study in Cell Reports, vitamin D3 slows the “molecular pathology of aging.” And other studies show it specifically reduces the risk of age-related diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.
Second, eating these whole foods with healthy protein and fats helps you build and maintain muscle as you age. It turns out, most older Americans don’t get nearly enough protein. Especially men.
But women need it too.
In fact, a study of women ages 65 to 70 years found that a daily diet with one third of calories coming from fat helped enhance their strength. And the best sources of healthy fat—such as fish, meats, full-fat dairy, and nuts—also contain plenty of complete protein. So, it’s a win-win.
4.) Add legumes to salads, soups, and stews
Legumes—such as beans, chickpeas (garbanzos), lentils, lima beans, and peas—are all part of the healthy Mediterranean diet. They also fight inflammation and may even help lower mortality risk.
In fact, in a recent study of older Australian, Greek, Japanese, and Swedish participants, legumes were the only food category consistently found to lower mortality risk in a dose-response effect. (A dose-response effect means the more legumes people ate, the lower their mortality risk.)
Specifically, for every 20 grams of legumes consumed daily, there was an 8 percent reduction in mortality risk. And a typical half-cup serving of legumes daily reduced mortality risk by 34 percent. (Remember, one-half cup of cooked beans is about 85 grams. So, it doesn’t take much.)
Of course, some experts suggest you can substitute legumes (beans) for all meat in your diet.
But beware. It’s not so simple.
Plant proteins are not complete. That is, they don’t contain all the different amino acids needed for human nutrition. Only meat and seafood contain complete proteins.
5.) Enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables at every meal
I always recommend getting six to eight daily servings of fruits and vegetables. But many people never hit that target. In fact, in a recent analysis of 95 studies, researchers concluded that 5.6 million premature deaths worldwide were caused by people eating less than 800 grams of produce daily.
Here’s a picture of what 800 grams looks like:
Unfortunately, many so-called health experts credit fiber alone for all these wonderful health benefits. And that’s certainly what the big food makers like Kellogg’s want you to think (so you’ll buy more of their granola bars and cereals with added fiber).
But remember—most whole foods that are high in fiber are also packed with healthy essential vitamins and nutrients!
Plus, as I expose in the current April issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter (“Going against the grain. Don’t be fooled—eating more bread and cereal WON’T make you live longer”), you should always focus on getting your fiber from fruits and vegetables—including legumes—not from processed grains and cereals.
(Subscribers may access that issue—and all of the issues I reference today—by visiting www.DrMicozzi.com, and logging in with your username and password. If you’re not yet a subscriber—all it takes is one quick click.)
6.) Nuts are no longer a no-no
Although many ill-informed nutritionists consider nuts a junk food because of their fat content, they should be part of your healthy, balanced diet. In fact, nuts are very high in vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids.
Plus, in a recent review of 20 different studies, researchers estimated that approximately 4.4 million premature deaths worldwide each year could be prevented by eating more nuts.
And in another recent study, researchers found eating a handful of nuts and seeds daily slowed cellular aging by 1.5 years.
So, go ahead and keep nuts in a bowl on the counter. And grab a handful each day!
Of course, there are many natural approaches for controlling inflammation in addition to your diet—including exercise routines, medical screenings, nutritional supplementation, and lifestyle interventions. You can learn all about the remarkably fast and easy ways to reverse the No. 1 cause of disease and aging in my brand-new online learning protocol, Dr. Micozzi’s Protocol for Eliminating Deadly Inflammation. Click here to learn more or enroll today.
P.S. Tune back in on Thursday to learn how stress affects chronic inflammation.
“Your Guide to a Healthier, Happier, Longer Life.” AARP, 1/2/2019. (aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2019/guide-healthier-longer-life.html)
“Nut consumption and risk of cardiovascular disease, total cancer, all-cause and cause-specific mortality: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective studies.” BMC Med 2016;14(1):207. doi.org/10.1186/s12916-016-0730-3